25 Years and Older Vehicles Importation to the USA

Most of the world has some kind of vehicle importation laws. Most of these laws are written to protect local markets, local manufacturers.  Many countries in the world have an exemption, where cars over 15 years old are allowed to be imported. Canada is one local example of having a “15 year rule'”.   Here in the US we have a weird stack of rules. It may not make sense, but don’t try and figure it out, just understand it. 

Vehicles over 25 years old are Department of Transportation(DOT) exempt from meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards(FMVSS).  Over 21 years old are Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) exempt.  To meet California smog exemption requirements, the car must be older than 1976. This does not make cars newer than 1976 impossible to import to California, but there are extra requirements, and testing.


We have started to work with a company in Japan, R- International, which gives you direct access to Japanese car auctions.  Sign up for their website, for a free preview of the dealer auctions. Today, there are over 21,000 cars available at auction.  Only a few of these cars are eligible for import to the US, but an example of eligible cars are below.

1975 Toyota Celica

1975 Toyota Celica. The auction starts at 100,000 yen or about $1200.  Twin cam, wing mirrors, all good stuff.

1981 Landcruiser Diesel

1981 Toyota Landcruiser.  This 4wd diesel landcruiser is a fairly rare sight in the US. Diesels of this vintage are smog exempt in California.

1982 Cedric

1982 Nissan Cedric. 2 liter, turbo. wing mirrors. Who else has a Cedric in the US?

1984 Nissan President

1984 Nissan President Limo.  Check out the plush lazyboy seats. I am not sure if you could drive this, I think you need to be “driven” in it. This is pimptastic.

1967 Cedric

1967 Nissan Cedric.  Another very unique car. 151k km. The auction starts at 30,000 yen or about $368.


These are just a few examples of the cool cars available overseas.  Are you looking for a new unique project?   Once you have signed up and have an idea of what kind of car you want, contact us. We can help you organize payment, get the car deregristered, and arrange shipping to the US. Once its on its way to the US, we will organize the customs brokering and paperwork clearance for you. Then once its here, and legally imported, we will arrange transportation to your location, and assist with registering your over 25 year old car. Contact us for cost estimates.

For the last 22 years, we have been involved in the vehicle export and import business. Over the years we have shipped thousands of cars overseas. Cars, trucks, boats, and motorcycles to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. We have experience in both container and Ro-Ro shipping.

Importation is not difficult if you know what you are doing, but if you do it wrong, you can end up with huge shipping charges, and the possibility of getting your cargo seized.  Our experience will ensure that you will minimize any risks associated with vehicle import.

Source: R-International

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Item Reviewed: 25 Years and Older Vehicles Importation to the USA Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sean Morris